Today, more than 3 billion people around the world use the Internet, and Americans are certainly not being left behind. An estimated 84 percent of the U.S. population is connected, and many of us connect to social media apps and websites. The Pew Research Center estimates that 65 percent of adults use social networking sites, and that number has been steadily rising for the past decade. Users report participating on these sites and apps for a wide variety of reasons, both personal and professional. They stay in touch with friends, get the latest news, and turn to social media for entertainment. The uses for social media seem endless, and everyone wants to find a way to capitalize on the volume and ease of exchanging information.
With so many users and so much information out there, it is natural that accident victims may use social media to update friends and family or simply share thoughts or photos of their lives. However, victims are often not the only ones involved in the case who may turn to the Internet. Many opposing lawyers or insurance company representatives will also check out social media to help build a case against the victim, often misrepresenting otherwise innocent thoughts, feelings, and photos.
If you have suffered injuries in an accident, you should be very cautious when using social media sites. Continue reading below to learn more about the dangers and how to avoid the pitfalls of social media.
Social Media Posts Could Be Misinterpreted to Dispute Your Claims
To pursue a personal injury claim, a victim must have suffered some injury that had a significant negative impact on his or her life. Injury victims are typically seeking some compensation to aid in their physical, emotional and financial recovery. In court, victims make claims about their well-being that are important to the outcome. These claims typically are supported by physicians, family, and others who can help substantiate the pain and suffering of the victim.
The opposing counsel and insurance company will look for any evidence to dispute those claims, and this now includes examining the victim’s social media pages. If a victim claims he has suffered a severe arm injury but subsequently posts a video of himself throwing a baseball, it would obviously have a damaging effect on his claim.
This is true of emotional injuries as well. If a victim has suffered depression or loss of enjoyment after an accident, the opposing side will use his social media pages to find proof that this is not true—anything from written birthday wishes to photos at a party. Even seemingly innocent or innocuous posts may be taken out of context or twisted by the defense to show that the victim has not truly suffered.
Some Common Myths About Social Media Protection
Many victims may think they are insulated from the searching eyes of the opposing investigators. That’s just not true. Here are some facts you may not have realized about today’s social media:
- Nothing is truly private. Even if your account is set to private or the app only shares your information with “friends,” your information is not truly private. There are many ways that others can access the information your social media accounts, and the opposing parties will do anything they can to gain that access.
- Nothing is truly gone. On the Internet, nothing is really ever gone once it has been revealed. Even if you deleted a post or took down a photo, they can still be brought to light. It is possible to search old information, or a screen shot of a former post could surface.
- Even private accounts are public record. Despite the settings on your account, if you choose to post something online, it becomes part of the public record. While private messages and email are considered private information, everything else is fair game. This includes information that others post about you.
Tips for Social Media Use After an Accident
If you’ve been involved in an accident and suffered an injury, the most important thing is protecting your rights. Victims are entitled to justice and compensation for their injuries due to someone else’s negligence. Unfortunately, opposing parties will often do all they can to undermine that right. To protect yourself and your loved ones, it is best to:
- Suspend your social media accounts.
- Ask family and friends to refrain from posting anything about you during that time.
Some victims may be unwilling to fully abstain from using social media. If that is the case, make sure to keep a few simple guidelines in mind:
- Don’t accept any new friend requests after an accident.
- Never post any information or thoughts related to the accident.
- Do not post any photos of yourself.
- Set all accounts to private.
Our world of increasing connectivity offers many useful and positive opportunities. However, there are those who try to use any information shared to their advantage. Though it may be easy to overlook the internet’s effect on your legal case, it can have a significant impact on any possible settlement or courtroom verdict.
If you’ve suffered injuries in an accident or if you have questions about how social media can affect your case in particular, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced injury lawyers at Rechtman & Spevak. Call our Atlanta office today at 888-522-7798 to learn more.